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“Caviar Cabinet”: Peru’s Marxist ruling party breaks with President

President Pedro Castillo of Peru shakes hands with Mirtha Vasquez after her swearing-in as the country’s new Prime Minister on October 6, 2021 in Lima, Peru. Peru’s presidency / handout on REUTERS

LIMA, October 14 (Reuters) – Peru’s ruling Marxist party said Thursday that President Pedro Castillo’s government had turned to the right and would withhold support for a so-called “caviar cabinet” in the opposition-dominated Congress.

Castillo, an elementary school teacher who won a shock election for the Peru Libre party earlier this year, reshuffled his cabinet last week, replacing his far-left prime minister and other ministers with more moderate officials.

The shift to the center has strengthened Peru’s financial markets but created a rift with the hard core of its socialist party, anticipating a more hostile political arena for Castillo, who rose to power and promised major reforms.

His party’s secession, however, is unlikely to be enough to torpedo the new cabinet, as a fragmented Congress generally applies to the more moderate composition.

On Wednesday, the sol currency of the world’s largest copper-producing country reached its highest level since Castillo took office at the end of July. NL1N2R92KY

Castillo’s abrupt rise to the presidency had shaken markets and investors, concerned about his demands during the campaign for comprehensive mining tax reform and plans to recast the pro-market constitution.

However, his new prime minister, moderate left lawyer Mirtha Vásquez, said that constitutional amendment was not a priority. Castillo also recently confirmed that central bank chief Julio Velarde will remain in his role, signaling political stability.

“There is an undeniable political turn from the government and its cabinet to the center-right,” said Peru Libre in a statement posted on Twitter by party leader Vladimir Cerrón, a doctor and admirer of left-wing governments in Cuba and Venezuela.

The party’s statement came after a national meeting of its leaders on Wednesday, Cerrón said.

Peru Libre has 37 MPs in Peru’s unicameral congress with 130 MPs, the largest single-party bloc. The right and center-right parties, led by former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori’s party, form an opposition majority, albeit in the assembly.

The Marxist Party also announced plans to shake up its lawmakers in Congress after several MPs from the presidential allied group signaled support for the reshuffle.

“We will not give the Kaviar Cabinet a vote of confidence,” said the party’s statement, using a derisive term that is often used against moderate, progressive leftists.

Vásquez will appear in Congress in the next few days to get approval for her cabinet team.

Reporting by Marco Aquino; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Mark Heinrich

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